“Women go after doctors like men go after models. They want someone with knowledge of the body. We just want the body.” —Jerry Seinfeld
All joking aside, there is no question that men often find themselves in situations where they see what they want in a member of the opposite sex but are totally clueless in how to effectively pursue it. Some people forget that the objects of their interest are actual human beings with thoughts and feelings, while others simply have no idea what to do with that knowledge.
Well, today is a lucky day for men in this kind of predicament, because the women of Reddit have been kind enough to offer all of us some tips and advice on the do’s and don’ts of approaching a woman.
Here are some of the highlights of what they had to say.
24. Death Threats Probably Mean Something Isn’t Working
If I am on the street, just don’t approach me. Period. I live downtown and I have received death threats after engaging with strangers.
Make your introduction light, and if she’s not feeling it after a couple of seconds, wish her a good day and leave. If you are engaged with a woman for at least 30 seconds and she’s not feeling it, I guarantee she has thought of an exit strategy already.
Give her space to talk so if she does want to leave, she doesn’t have to wait for you to finish speaking or interrupt you.
Just giving a woman freedom to leave a situation makes a huge difference really.
23. It’s Partnership, Not Ownership
If we accept, don’t act like you own us once we’ve gone on a date. Jerk behavior at best and terrifying at worst.
22. No Physical Contact
A stranger shouldn’t be placing his hand on your lower back, putting his hand on your shoulder, grabbing your hand, anything. Obviously people know groping and feeling people up is gross and totally uncalled for, but I think some don’t realize that any physical contact from a stranger is unwarranted and unnecessary.
21. Three Words: Location, Location, Location
Wait until you’re in a place where it’s appropriate. Bar, coffee shop if she doesn’t have headphones in or is reading. Ask if you can join her. Talk about something interesting.
20. Play It Cool
I am a gym rat but some guy friends will confide which girl they like but don’t know how to approach her. I say: “Ask her to take a pic or take a video of you doing a workout. Right after, tell her thanks and ask for her name. Remember to introduce yourself. Don’t keep talking but in the days after, wave to her and smile but don’t stare. Don’t try to talk to her everyday. She’ll know your intentions and then you’ll be creepy. Keep it casual and then she will enjoy seeing you and you can ask her out.”
19. Heed the Warning Signs
Headphones are the universal sign of “Leave me alone,” not “Follow me around the gym and talk to me when I don’t have anywhere to go.”
18. Keep It Simple, Stupid!
If this is someone you see regularly, smile. If she returns the smile, say hi.
Let the conversation flow.
Do take a hint if she’s not interested.
17. Always Quit While You’re Ahead
Whether she is someone you see frequently or not I suggest being short and sweet. Obviously get to know her a little so you’re not complete strangers, but you should give that no more than 5-10 min and leave it off with asking for her number and then proceed to text her the next day and ask her out if you still want to. Don’t ask her anything super personal but find out what she likes to do around town and use that as a way to help you ask her out.
From my experience, I get so annoyed when a guy just won’t leave and basically turns our first time we meet into a date, so definitely don’t overstay your welcome.
16. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
A typical next line I often hear after a rejection is “well, would you like to be friends?” This is absolutely fine, but you have to mean it. I’ve had a lot of friends say things like this and then be surprised when, six months later, they are still only friends with that person. You can’t say that with the hopes that they will change their mind, because it isn’t fair.
15. To Each Their Own
Nobody’s going to be everybody’s cup of tea. People have types, and orientations, and things they find cute or ugly or hot or boring or endearing or disgusting, both physically and personality-wise.
A friend of mine got married a few years ago; her husband is, to me, fairly significantly ugly, and has several personal habits that I wouldn’t want anything to do with, and as far as I can tell, has a personality like a bump on a log. She, on the other hand, finds him attractive and charming and doesn’t mind those habits or is willing to overlook them, and is clearly pleased with the personal rapport she has with him so apparently something works there. He would be no good for me whatsoever, but he’s amazing for her.
People aren’t interchangeable and most of them aren’t one-size-fits-all. Moreover, they know their own wants and needs and inclinations in a way that the person asking them out isn’t privy to. Sometimes it’s going to be an “I don’t want to date this person” for whatever reason, and even the most conventionally-attractive or socially-adept person around is going to be someone’s “meh” that they pass over on their way to swooning over someone else entirely.
It’s like puzzle pieces, sort of. If two puzzle pieces from across the puzzle don’t fit together, it doesn’t mean that one of them is better than the other or out of the other’s league, it just means they don’t fit together.
14. Ignorance Isn’t Bliss
Seriously, can this post become a sticky somewhere on some sub? I’m happily married, but when I was single I was terrified of approaching women and avoided doing so because I thought they didn’t like when guys did that. Sexual misconduct needs to be brought to attention, and men need to be educated on what is appropriate behavior with regard to interacting with women. I can tell you right now that SOME men legitimately don’t know any better when it comes to respecting women. Bravo to OP for posting this.
13. Know Where You Are
Approach her in a place where she won’t feel like she’s being cornered. Other people around, casual setting, etc. An empty train car probably isn’t your best bet.
12. Test the Waters out Before Jumping in
Be friendly and engage in at least minimal small talk before asking her out, for her number, etc. Literally asking 2 seconds into the conversation can be weird, because even if we know your intent right away, you haven’t given us any time to feel out the situation and feel comfortable.
11. I’m Not Telling You, I’m Asking You
Don’t be demanding. Just ask if she is interested, and do not be forceful about it if she rejects you.
10. Know Your Audience
Go in understanding that some women don’t like being approached by strangers, period. You might be good looking, funny, and friendly, and she still might be uncomfortable or uninterested.
9. Act Naturally
I know this is hard to execute in practice, but just don’t be too weird about it. Don’t treat her like a foreign species or a piece of meat, just like a normal person.
8. What’s Going on Behind the Scenes
The guys I remember the most fondly had very casual conversation starters and transitioned smoothly into asking my name. Don’t start with “Hey, I’m so and so” or “What’s your name?” It catches me so off guard.
Try mentioning something that doesn’t have to do with her specifically. When you approach me, I’m trying to assess the situation, determine if you’re dangerous, examine my surroundings, and figure out what your intentions are. I don’t want to be doing all of this while answering questions about myself, even if it’s just my name.
Also, read that body language. Make a little eye contact and smile. And then read her body language and make sure she’s not already creeped out or on guard.
For instance, if you’re in line at Target or something, smile and read her body language. Then mention something about your surroundings or the store: “I always come in here for a specific thing and end up leaving with 30 things I didn’t need and forget the one thing I came here for.” Every girl at Target can sympathize with that. If she doesn’t say anything, don’t push it. She’s not into it. If she seems good with the conversation, just make small talk in line and then give her your number.
7. Don’t Be That Ridiculous, Fellas
NEVER FOLLOW HER OR WAIT FOR HER IN THE PARKING LOT. That is creepy. We are constantly told how dangerous parking lots are so you immediately come off as a threat.
6. Take Things One Step at a Time
Don’t approach them as someone you are interested in, approach them as someone you want to make friends with. Start with “hello” or a wave, and then try making a friend. If you don’t want to make a friend, you are not worth getting to know.
5. There’s More to Her Than Meets the Eye
Striking up a conversation about a mutual interest sometimes works. The thing is you have to be genuine. Strange guys approach single women all the freakin’ time and feign interest when the real message is, you’re good enough; I’d do you.
Take an interest in her personality, in her tastes. Relate to her as a human being. She may shut you out for any of a thousand reasons and she doesn’t owe you an explanation, but once in a while a woman might decide that you seem fun and interesting.
That being said, women tend to be less on guard when there’s an introduction through mutual friends or if the two of you belong to the same club.
4. Plot Twist
I’m going to assume in my answer that part of the question is whether or not you know she’s into women, since it’s someone you don’t know. And that’s the double whammy. It’s not only “is she into me?” it’s also “is she sapphic, or just being nice?” (the age-old question).
My friends and I have a running joke that “I like your haircut” is queer women’s code for “I like girls, specifically you. Do you like girls, specifically me?” A lot of us also flag in some small way or another – like, maybe she’s got a rainbow pin on her bag or something like that. I am very visibly queer, but I still get flirted with a lot more when I’m literally wearing a certain shirt.
I try to basically treat women the way I wish men treated me. I know that as a broad-shouldered butch who takes up a lot of space, I can come across as intimidating sometimes, but I’m also a smiley dork with chipmunk cheeks. So I rarely flirt with women I don’t know in public anyway, but if I do, I give her a ton of outs – like, I might make eye contact, look away, look back a few seconds later to see if she’s doing the same thing.
If not, or she turns her back, clearly she’s not into it. If she is, maybe we do that a couple of times and then maybe I smile at her and see if she smiles back. It takes forever, but it’s totally worth it when you’re nervous and awkward like me.
Personally, I don’t usually just ask someone for their number or whatever; it’ll be more like “oh hey, you’re into jiu-jitsu? I’m into jiu-jitsu! Have you ever been to the open mat at [whatever venue]? If not, do you want some arm candy sometime?” Like, this is just me, but I prefer to have a specific thing I’m gonna be texting them about rather than just doing it for the sake of talking. But that’s purely my preference – I’m more into “Do you wanna do X thing?” than “I’m attracted to you.”
I do, however, love it when women are not at all subtle sometimes – one time, I was on the train, and it was super, super packed and I couldn’t reach any of the handrails so I was glancing around looking nervous that I was gonna fall and take somebody out. This cute femme looks me up and down, grins, and just goes, “You can hold onto me if you want!” I said, “Really?” and she was like “Yeah!” and held out her arm so I wouldn’t fall over. I think the fact that she was a lot smaller and, for lack of a better term, girlier made that more comfortable – she clearly didn’t find me intimidating or anything like that, heh.
3. Graceful in Defeat
If they say “No thanks, I’m not interested,” keep it short with something like “no worries, i wish you all the best” or “sorry to bother you, hope you have a good day” if she seems annoyed.
When I told a random guy I had a boyfriend, he said “oh man, well tell him he’s a lucky guy” and then didn’t press the issue, which was sweet and makes me look back on that encounter and smile (whereas I usually get anxious and on guard when men approach me).
The biggest thing is to never make her say no twice, and take the rejection with grace because there are some seriously scary guys out there making the pickup environment harder for everyone. Any attitude you throw after being rejected doesn’t make me feel like I screwed up, it confirms I just dodged a bullet.
2. A Little Bit of Judgement
I would add to be aware of your situation. At a party or a popular bar where people go to meet others is the perfect environment to approach a woman directly – meaning, chat her up a bit and if you click, exchange info or keep flirting and take it from there. However if you are at work, taking a yoga class, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, etc. the situation is different.
This is not to say avoid meeting women this way, just don’t treat the interactions the same way. Just introduce yourself and make conversation. If this is a recurring thing like a class, take it slow, take a few rounds ’til you ask her out. If it’s a one-off, just say, “I really liked talking to you, here is my information if you want to grab a coffee and talk some time.” This sounds vague, but that’s intentional, it’s not a date, but more like a pre-date where you can get together in the proper situation where flirting might be welcome.
1. Don’t Fence Me in
As a barista myself, a tip to the guys is if you find a worker attractive maybe try to frequent their place of work if you live nearby to get a better feel for the situation rather than hit on them explicitly. It’s very awkward to feel trapped when someone is asking you out when the awkwardness could have been avoided if you already started to make a small talk relationship. It comes more natural.